The kids are going to love baking a batch of these festive reindeer cookies! A fun take on gingerbread cookies decorated with an adorable Rudolph face. Freezer-friendly and perfect for any Christmas cookie plate.
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Rudolph Reindeer Cookies
If you were to ask me to list my all-time favorite holiday cookies, these Christmas reindeer cookies would be one of them! They’re a fun take on gingerbread man cookies except instead of little people, we’re turning them into reindeers!
Gingerbread reindeer cookies are perfectly spiced with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, in the dough and are given the deep color and signature flavor of molasses and brown sugar. Similar to rolo pretzel reindeer, we use a red M&M for the nose, candy eyes, and pretzel twists for the antlers.
Everything you need to make these festive cookies can be found in your pantry or your local grocery store. They’re simple, tasty, and so much fun to add to any Christmas dessert board alongside some peppermint brownies and reindeer chow.
Why This Recipe Works
- Fun for the whole family. The best Christmas cookies are usually the ones that provoke the fondest memories. There’s no better way to create those memories than to get the whole family involved. Kids love adding little reindeer faces!
- Delicious. The familiar aroma and taste of freshly baked gingerbread cookies give us all the warm cozy vibes of the holiday season. This scrumptious cookie is made only better with candy on top!
- Freezer-friendly. Freeze the dough or the baked reindeer cookies for months and you can have a quick and easy treat ready in no time.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Unsalted butter: The butter needs to be creamed with the sugar until fluffy, which means starting with it at room temperature is a must. Here are some tips on how to soften butter if you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge ahead of time.
- Brown sugar: Light brown sugar gives it that delicious caramel flavor and sweetness. Using brown sugar rather than white sugar will also help give it that bit of extra moisture.
- Molasses: I use Grandma’s Original molasses, but you can use what you’ve got. As long as it isn’t blackstrap molasses, which is too bitter and will change the texture of the cookie dough.
- Spices: We’re using cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, which are the common spices used in all kinds of gingerbread recipes.
- All-purpose flour: As always, it’s important to know how to measure flour accurately, either with a kitchen scale or the spoon and level method for the best results.
- For the face: Red M&Ms, candy eyes, and chocolate-covered pretzels. Usually, you can find candy eyes at Walmart or anywhere you’d find baking supplies. If not, online is a pretty safe bet. Alternatively, you could use chocolate chips or brown M&Ms instead!
If you are looking for a timesaver, you could even make cake mix cookies. Then just use the decorative items on the cookies for a twist!
If you would just rather use a powdered sugar icing to drizzle on top, have at it! I’m sure Santa and his reindeer would be impressed no matter what.
How to Make Reindeer Cookies
- Blend dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Since you’ll be adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, you want to use a smaller bowl for the dry ingredients.
- Mix wet ingredients. Beat the brown sugar and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in the molasses and continue mixing until smooth. Then, add in the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Then mix in dry ingredients.
- Combine, chill, then form the dough. Portion the dough into 24 pieces then roll them into little balls. Flatten each one and shape an upside-downside down triangle (like a guitar pick) and place them onto a prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart from each other.
- Bake and decorate. Transfer the baking sheet to a preheated 350°F oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and immediately press 2 chocolate pretzels into the top of the triangle then add the nose and eyes. Allow reindeer cookies to cool completely before taking a bite!
Need to Glue the Eyes?
Use an easy cookie icing made with 1/4 powdered sugar and 1/2-1 teaspoon of water. It should be similar to a thick paste, so add more water as needed.
- Don’t skip the chill time. Chilling the dough for at least 1 hour will help firm up the butter once again so that the reindeer cookies don’t spread too thin.
- Make ahead. If you’re not ready to shape and bake yet, you can keep the dough discs chilling in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.
- Nonstick. For easy removal of the reindeer cookies, make sure to line your baking sheet with either a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Work quickly. You want to make sure to place the pretzels, eyes, and nose into the cookie while it’s still soft so that as it cools and firms up, everything will hold in place.
Yes, you can! They would be super cute, however, you’ll need to add a bit of melted chocolate or cookie icing for them to stick. When using chocolate pretzels, the chocolate melts from the heat of the cookie which isn’t the case with plain pretzels.
My kids adore leaving them out for Santa with a batch of magic reindeer food! Add a cold glass of milk for dunking as well.
As a part of a dessert or cookie tray. We have them with some other favorites like this M&M Christmas cookie recipe. Perfect for snacks anytime!
A hot chocolate charcuterie board to wash down the reindeer cookies is always a fun idea!
They are soft and fluffy straight out of the oven. You need to allow them to cool on the baking sheet first to firm up, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yes, they freeze really well! Once completely cooled, transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight container and keep them frozen for months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and enjoy.
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- 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar , packed
- ¾ cup molasses , I prefer Grandma's Original
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 48 chocolate covered pretzels
- 24 red M&M's
- 48 chocolate chips , or candy eyes
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until smooth and creamy. Add in the molasses and beat until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla just until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Add to the butter mixture and mix on low just until combined.
- Divide the dough in 1/2 and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Press into flat discs. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- Portion dough into 24 pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball and then shape the dough into an upside-down triangle.
- Transfer to the baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the centers are set and the cookies are fluffy, being careful not to burn.
- Remove from the oven and immediately press 2 pretzels into the top (or long side) of the triangle for antlers. Add an M&M to the point of the triangle for the nose. Press chocolate chips in the center for the eyes (you can also use candy eyes). Repeat with remaining cookies. Let cool on the pan a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2-1 teaspoon water (more as needed)
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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